In this Section

TAF Impact: Sustainable Wastewater Treatment

Nitrogen pollution is diminishing the quality of surface and ground water around the world. At the same time, producing synthetic nitrogen for fertilizer accounts for nearly 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Perceiving potential wealth where most others see only waste, SUNY ESF Professor Wendong Tao and his research team are tackling both sides of this serious environmental problem.

Tao invented a patented system -- VaSATM  -- that strips ammonia from wastewater and uses the recovered nitrogen to produce fertilizer. The method also improves the efficiency of biogas production and ensures the treated wastewater is safe for unrestricted use in agriculture. The nearly zero carbon process combines vacuum, heat, and chemical reactions to achieve these goals.

The prototype was tested with anaerobically digested sewage sludge at the City of San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility in California from January to April 2022 and with leachate at Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority's Regional Landfill at Ava, N.Y. from May to July 2023. The pilot testing project won the California Association of Sanitation Agencies 2022 Award of Excellence in Innovation and Resilience.

“Our vacuum stripping and absorption prototype can play a crucial role in addressing future technology gaps faced by water resource recovery facilities, animal feeding operations, and landfills. This approach provides a cost-effective solution to recover ammonia in wastewater and treat digestate and manure while producing nitrogen fertilizers,” said Dr. Tao. “The SUNY TAF investment in our prototype will make scale-up design and field demonstration possible.”

As part of the TAF award, this prototype will be used for pilot tests in summer 2024 at a biogas plant in Norway in collaboration with a Norwegian company Antec Biogas AS. The TAF award will be used mainly to construct a new prototype with an improved design.

About the SUNY TAF

A significant obstacle to the commercial development of university technology is the lack of funding for promising discoveries after government-sponsored support ends and before a licensee or venture-capital support is secured. The SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (SUNY TAF) program was established in 2011 to help bridge that gap for SUNY researchers. SUNY TAF targets critical research and development milestones—such as feasibility studies, prototyping, and testing—which demonstrate that an idea or innovation has commercial potential. The goal is to increase the likelihood of potential investors and other partners to translate these early-stage technologies into products and services with transformational capabilities.

Tags Tags: SUNY ESF , Research , Technology Accelerator Fund

comments powered by Disqus